Worth a bet?

POSTED BY Global Administrator

If you’re based in Turkey, and you fancy a flutter, then you might well have come across bilyoner.com.

Well, I’m not, I only occasionally do, and I hadn’t, at least until I was alerted by a rather interesting piece on the Gambling Compliance website.

Bilyoner.com  is one the country’s two authorized gambling portals (the other – for the record – is nesine.com). First launched in 2005, bilyoner.com has acquired over one million registered users to date. So far so good.  However, its owners (Intralot and Demir Toprak) had realised that broadband Internet penetration was comparatively low in Turkey, and that, conversely mobile penetration was taking off (at the end of 2004 it was 50%, it is now 90% plus). Accordingly, within a few months of  the website going live, Mobile IDDAA came on the scene, and has now achieved over 125,000 downloads.

Now for the KPIs. Well, here I’ll quote verbatim from the article.

“On busy match days, an average of over 30,000 operations (balance checks, bets, balance history, coupons, live score queries) are performed and $30,000 worth of bets are placed, according to Istanbul-based mobile technology partner Pozitron.”

Thirty thousand greenbacks per matchday is not a bad return. Now, there are eighteen footie teams in Turkey (I confess, I just looked this up) which translate into 34 matchdays per annum. So, even if the Turkish punters are only laying out on the likes out Fenerbahce and Galatasary, and eschewing additional weekends when teams further abroad are hoofing the ball around, that still translates into over a million dollars per annum. So well done them.

Now while this constitutes only a small proportion  of Turkey’s gambling market – and probably accounts for less than 1% bilyoner.com’s revenues – it is another pointer to the continued growth of mobile gambling outside what might be termed its heartland, the UK, where service deployment has been facilitated by relatively liberal (but thorough) regulation of remote gambling.

Certainly mobile gambling (and indeed remote gambling per se) has faced substantial hurdles over the past few years, not least some fairly dirigiste legislation aimed at reducing (or obliterating) competition to national and/or state betting monopolies. That said, things are looking up in this regard: not only is the EU now instigating proceedings against national governments which seek to impose restrictions on competition, but  - after the period of unforced inactivity in the field following the passage of UIGEA and the Safe Port Act in 2006 -  we have some positive news from the US.

An article in Venture Beat notes that the UK-based Betfair, which recently purchased an US online horse race betting channel, is “also building applications to let people bet on horse races from sports bars via their mobile phones” so that they can watch the races on its channel and bet through its application.

Betfair already has a downloadable betting Java application for its UK customers – Betfair Mobile, which was designed and managed by Rapid Mobile before Betfair bought and rebranded it in 2006 – and it seems likely that the new app will be a modified version of its existing product. Given the size of the US betting market, this is a potentially groundbreaking development.

And finally: if you happen to be in Venezuela, or possibly Curacao; if it’s a wet Saturday night, there’s some good stuff on the telly, you can’t be bothered to nip down to the newsagent to buy those lotto tickets: well, now you don’t have to! As mobile betting has come to the citizens of Istanbul, so has mobile lotto come to those in Caracas and Willemstad, courtesy of a text-based produced launched within the past couple of months by Managed Gaming Solutions.

In short, mobile gambling, in one form or another, is getting global. It may have been a slower burner than was envisaged several years ago, but – thanks to companies such as bilyoner.com, Betfair and Managed Gaming Solutions – the blue touch paper has been well and truly lit.